By Asmau Ahmad
The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, said the over 38 million pounds humanitarian assistance to Nigeria’s North-east in the past 12 months has saved the lives of vulnerable, conflict-affected persons.
Cleverly made this known while visiting the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) on Wednesday at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Commending the UN agencies and its partners in Nigeria, Mr Cleverly said that they must all work in collaborations with the UK and Nigerian government to bring a permanent, sustainable solution to the socio, and ecological destruction in the region.
“We are here to draw attention to the work being done by the international community with the support of the UK government to support our good friends in Nigeria.
“To help address the severe challenges faced by many Nigerians in the North of the country, particularly the north east of the country.
“The Instability there, terrorist activities, the activities of armed military groups have significantly limited the opportunity of farmers to make a living in that part of the country.
“And that of course compounded by the situation that we see with climate change and sadly now with the situation that we are witnessing across the border with Niger, means that for millions of Nigerians, there are real challenges with producing the food that they need.
“This is why the United Nations Humanitarian Air Services plays an invaluable role, distributing food aid provided and funded by the UK government and others from the international community to take that food support directly to the people who need it most.
“We have seen here, emergency ration pack for children, providing the nutrients for those children that are severely underfed, and at risk of malnutrition. I want to make this very clear, this is very much an international programme, the UK plays a significant part, I am very proud of that.
“In the past 12 months we have donated in the region of £38 million to support the feeding of people in most need. But we do it with the full support of a number of partners,” Cleverly said.
Mr Guy Adoua, Deputy Country Director Operations, World Food Programme (WFP) Abuja, thanked the UK government for their support in reaching over 1.8 million vulnerable population in 2022.
“With the UK contribution, we have been able to provide food assistance to about 1.8 million last year.
“This is mainly in the North-east. And this year, our plans is to reach about two million and we really appreciate the contributions we are receiving from the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO).
“Thanks to the contributions that we receive from the FCDO, we have been able to maintain our UN humanitarian air service.
“And this is helping humanitarian actors to move across the country to provide the necessary humanitarian support to people in the North-east part of Nigeria,” Adoua said.
Ms Cristian Munduate, UNICEF’s Country Representative to Nigeria also said that through the support of the UK, UNICEF has saved the lives of severely malnourished children at risk of death.
“In the North-east, the UK has supported us in nutrition, water, and sanitation as well.
“Thanks to them, we were able to reach thousands of children who are suffering severe acute malnutrition which is the malnutrition where children are urgently needing medical lifesaving actions.
“We have 1.4 million children suffering severe acute malnutrition in the entire country and this is why partners and supporters like the United Kingdom government are really critical and important to save the lives of these children.”
Also present at the event are; Matthias Schmale, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, and Dr Nasir Sani-Gwazor, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.